Moroccan journalist on trial for ‘defaming’ ruling party

Rabat, Apr 10 (EFE).- Moroccan journalist Hanane Bakour went on trial Monday in a defamation case over a Facebook post in which she criticized the ruling National Rally of Independents (RNI) party.

Bakour faces up to three years in jail if found guilty.

The first hearing took place at a court of first instance in the northwestern city of Salé after it had been put on hold several times.

Bakour, who worked for digital newspaper Alyaoum24, was charged on September 21 after she posted a series of Facebook posts in which she demanded clarification for the circumstances behind the suicide of a prominent Moroccan politician during the country’s local elections.

According to the journalist, Abdelouahab Belfkih of the Authenticity and Modernity party, an RNI ally, committed suicide after his candidacy for the president of the southern region Guelmim-Oued Noun was replaced by that RNI’s Mbarka Bouaida.

The RNI submitted a complaint against the journalist for publishing photos of Bouaida without her consent, as well as spreading false allegations with the aim of defamation.

Bakour could face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 20,000 dirhams (about $1,950).

Amnesty International has called for the charges against Bakour to be “dismissed immediately and the case against her dropped.”

“It is shocking, heavy-handed and absurd that a journalist faces criminal charges over a Facebook post that was critical of Morocco’s main political party.” Heba Morayef, AI’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said.

“Hanane Bakour has a right to her opinions, even if politicians object to them,” Morayef added.EFE


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